Fake Christmas trees less of a fire hazard

"The Decision" A real or a fake Christmas tree?

One of the determining factors is how close the tree might be to a fire place. Overlooked holiday hazards can spark deadly fires within minutes, fire officials warned, urging residents to check smoke detectors before hanging holiday decorations. Christmas trees start more than 200 house fires each year, according to data published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), causing an average of six deaths, 16 injuries and nearly $15 million in direct property damage. One of every 32 Christmas tree fires is deadly, the same report revealed, compared to an average of one death per 143 total house fires. "Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires," NFPA said. One expert recommends purchasing an artificial tree to minimize fire hazards. "I know that they don't smell as nice but we don't have those concerns with them catching fire like we would with a real tree," a statement explained. "If you get a real tree, it comes with certain responsibilities." Selecting a healthy tree and keeping it properly hydrated is the first line of defense against a preventable holiday blaze, and it will make for a longer-lasting tree. It is also recommended keeping Christmas trees — real or fake — at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves and other heat sources. In a controlled burn video posted by NFPA, fire safety experts demonstrate how a dry, medium-sized tree — no taller than six feet — can ignite and become fully engulfed in under a minute. Flames quickly roared through the demonstration room, spreading to the ceiling and walls by the 30-second mark.

Christmas trees can ignite in a hurry. Christmas Tree Fire Safety Checklist: Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily. Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of light strands to connect. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.